We get an inspirational Employee Information sheet every month with miscellaneous helpful articles and so forth. This month we get “10 people who made it big despite a rocky start,” credited to Perfectionism: What’s Bad About Being Too Good? by Miriam Adderholdt and Jan Goldberg. The last of these ten people is Abraham Lincoln, about which the authors say, “Abraham Lincoln started out as a captain at the end of the Blackhawk War. By the end of the war, he had been demoted to private.”
Well, my BS detector went off. I Googled on “Abraham Lincoln” “Blackhawk War” demoted and got eleven hits…but most of them are exactly the same text, just different sites. Googling on “Abraham Lincoln” “Blackhawk War” brings up a ton of hits verifying that Abe was indeed in the Illinois militia in the Blackhawk war…but no mention of demotion. In fact, this site says “Between his announced candidacy and the election, [Lincoln] served in the militia in the Blackhawk war. He never saw any fighting, but did run across some men recently killed by Indians. He was elected captain, which in later life he claimed made him as happy as any honor before or since. [italics mine]” which if anything seems diametrically opposite the previous claim.
This page, however, says “It will be remembered that Lincoln, then only 23 years old, had been elected captain of a company recruited to aid in fighting the Blackhawk War in 1832. He served as captain only a brief period then was discharged. He then enlisted as a private in the company of Captain Iles at Dixon’s Ferry.” Does “discharged” = “demoted”? Seems doubtful to me, but what’s the story behind this? Why would Abe jump companies? And should I start disbelieving the other nine tales of “People Who made It Big”?